..the Fisher-Price™ Laugh & Learn™ Apptivity™ Monkey. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has once again put the worst toys of the year to a vote, with nominees that are designed to promote commercial brands or media rather than performing the core function of toys: to entertain, to expand imagination, to teach, and to promote exercise.
With 33% of the vote, the stuffy with an iPhone in its belly squeaked past LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop (30%) to win the 2012 TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children) Award. The O ball (21%), the 7-11 Slurpee Maker (10%), and the Put Me In The Story app (7%) were the other runners-up.
The Apptivity Monkey succeeds the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet as the reigning TOADY winner, illustrating mounting concerns about the push to get very young children hooked on screen media. CCFC member Teresa Lewis voted for the Apptivity Monkey, “because it is in clear violation of pediatrician and professional recommendations to keep babies and toddlers under 2 away from any screens at all.” She added, “It’s more like the Capptivity Monkey.” Noted Jennifer Long, owner of a child care center, “It’s bad enough that most toys for babies are battery operated and flashy/light-up, but now they are encouraging screen time as part of a toy. I’m sad for the sweet little babies that get an Apptivity Monkey this holiday and for the unknowing parents that buy it thinking it’s good for their baby.”
But other nominees had their “fans.” Voters were especially irked by LEGO’s marketing for the Butterfly Beauty Shop, which encourages girls to “get primped and pretty and have some serious salon fun” and “gossip out on the bench by the scenic fountain.” Kate Snyder said, “While I know there are lots of ‘bad toys’ to choose from that fall into that same category of gender marketing gone crazy, I was particularly disappointed to see LEGO going that route.” About the 7-11 Slurpee Machine, Casey Hinds said, “Toys should inspire the imagination instead of creating a desire to drink sugar water. I consider this the toy that keeps on giving…obesity, diabetes and bad health.” And Sarah Hellman succinctly explained her choice of the smartphone-enabled TheO ball: “Since when does a ball require instructions or technology?”
In the end, though, the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Monkey wins the distinct dishonor of being named Worst Toy of the Year. It joins the Vinci, Nickelodeon’s AddictingGames.com, and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Barbie in the TOADY hall of shame.